How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth Taking Care of Your Dog's Mouth

How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

The main reason dogs have such problems with dental health is they have trouble holding a tooth brush. Itโ€™s no wonder they have potty breath! The best way to stay ahead of canine tooth problems is to brush your dogโ€™s teeth.

The main reason dogs have such problems with dental health is they donโ€™t have opposable thumbs and have trouble holding a tooth brush. Itโ€™s no wonder they have potty breath! There are many products available for helping to keep your dogโ€™s smile bright, from dental treats to chew toys. Dingo Ringo, for instance, is a special treat for dogs that massages the gum and removes tartar. But the best way to stay ahead of canine tooth problems is to brush your dogโ€™s teeth.

Dogs probably wonโ€™t open wide for you without some training. Ideally you should brush your dogโ€™s teeth after every meal, just as you do your own. But any amount of brushing you can manage will reduce dental problems and save you the cost of professional cleaning. 

How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

  • Start training from the time you bring your puppy home. Handle their muzzles, open their mouths and gently feel the teeth to get pups used to having something manipulating their mouths. Just lift the dogโ€™s lips without trying to force the mouth open, and offer a dental treat when they allow this.
  • You can use a soft human baby-size toothbrush, a dog tooth brush, or a โ€œfingerโ€ brush for dogs. Some dogs hate having something stuck into their mouth but will accept a beloved ownerโ€™s fingers, so the finger brush that slips over your index finger may work best. You can also wrap your finger with a wash cloth or piece of gauze.
  • Only use dog-approved tooth paste. Human toothpaste contains fluoride and since dogs wonโ€™t spit, the swallowed paste can be bad for them. Pet tooth pastes come in chicken, malt, beef and other flavors. Let your dog sniff and taste a sample of the paste before you begin.
  • Once they taste (and like!) the paste, put a bit on your bare finger and slip it inside your dogโ€™s mouth to rub against the outside of the teeth. You donโ€™t have to worry about the inside of the teeth because the dogโ€™s tongue keeps that surface pretty clean.
  • After the dog accepts your flavored finger, you can put some of the toothpaste on the finger or dog tooth brush. Hold your dogโ€™s mouth closed with one hand while you slip the brush under the lips and brush the outside of the teeth. Pay particular attention to the molars in the cheek region. Remember to always praise dogs when they accept the brushing. Aim for brushing a couple times a week.

How to Brush a Dogโ€™s Teeth

Brushing your dogโ€™s teeth at least twice a week is vital to your petโ€™s oral health. Like humans, dogs can get cavities, plaque buildup, and gum disease. But unlike humans, dogs cannot use the typical toothpastes found at grocery and drug stores for their dental care.

Why Can't Dogs Use Human Toothpaste?

Human toothpaste is not edible, which is why we spit it out when we are through brushing our teeth. Since dogs cannot rinse and spit out toothpaste, they will swallow it. Ingredients in human toothpaste, like fluoride, can be toxic to dogs in large doses, so it is unsafe for them to ingest it.

What Kind of Toothpaste Is Safe for Dogs?

Specially formulated edible toothpaste for dogs is readily available through various pet care brands. This toothpaste does not foam like human toothpaste, but it has all the right ingredients to help fight tartar buildup and gum disease, which will in turn reduce bad breath.

Dog Toothpaste Flavors

To make tooth brushing a more pleasant experience, try to find toothpaste that your dog enjoys. Dog toothpaste can be found in a variety of flavors that appeal to canines, like beef, poultry, peanut, vanilla, mint, and seafood. If they are available, buy sample sizes of different flavors to test which one your dog prefers most.

Finding the Right Dog Toothpaste

You may not find the right dog toothpaste on your first try. Experiment with different brands, flavors, and types of toothpaste. When testing out types of toothpaste, you want to find a balance between what is pleasant for your dog, most effective in cleaning, and easy to use. Dog toothpaste comes in forms other than regular paste, such as liquid rinses, gels, and sprays to name a few. Some varieties of dog toothpaste contain grain alcohol to clean teeth, while others are enzymatic. Take a look at the ingredients list before purchasing if your dog has certain sensitivities, or if there are ingredients you wish to avoid.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.

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